One of my favorite things about running is participating in races. There are a bunch of different reasons why racing is so much fun. It is a good way to meet other people. Everyone has nervous energy at the start and you are bound to meet a new friend or two. I also love how it helps validate my obsession with running. Knowing that there are hundreds, maybe even thousands, of other people who are as passionate about running as me is calming.

If you’ve never raced before, finding your first race can be really overwhelming. There are a million different types of races, so it can be hard to find the one that works best for you.

As you look for your first one, here are five questions to ask yourself.




1. What do you want to get out of the experience?

There are so many different kinds of races that you can sign up for! Of course, you have your traditional races which are timed and generally run on the roads or local trails. Recently, adventure races have become more popular… these are your mud runs, light runs, color runs.

They are REALLY fun, but are generally more about having a good time with friends. They are untimed and focus more on the overall experience.

If you want to gauge your running ability, these may not be the best races for you. Knowing what you want to get out of your first race is important because it will help you find the best race for you.


2. How much time do you have to train?

Thinking about how much time you have to train will help you figure out the right distance for you. There’s nothing wrong with having your first distance be a half marathon. However, you need to make sure that you have enough weeks to put in the right amount of training and build up your distance.

It’s also good to think about how much time during the day you have to train. If you can only run three days a week for a max of 30 minutes, you may want to stick with a shorter distance for your first go. After all, you don’t want to ride the injury train during your first training experience ever.


3. How far do you want to travel?

Most areas have a lot of local races to choose from, but there are a lot of really fun destination races (check out my favorites here!). These can be expensive since you have to pay for your race entry, your travel to and from the destination and most likely a hotel and food while you are there.

Some people find that for their first race, it’s best to do something that is local. That way, you can get ready by sleeping in your own bed and following your normal routine like you would before a race. But, there’s nothing wrong with going afar! Think about what works best for your schedule, wallet and running habits. After all, a distance race (*co*ZOOMA Run Texas*ugh*) can be a fun way to bond with your girlfriends (or manfriends).

{with good friends at Boston Marathon 2013}


4. What do you know about the race and its organizers?

There have been a lot of race series popping up. I’m sure you’ve seen them! There’s been the color run series, electric run series, mud run series… even though they all look like they are legit because they have nice websites, do your research. There was recently some news around the Great American Mud Run Series that canceled some races and refused to give runners refunds. Ashley had a terrible experience with supposed race directors organizing a race for Hurricane Sandy victims.

Take a look online to see what people are saying about races, if they’ve been held before. I love looking at Marathon Guide for honest reviews about half and full marathons. Most people will post opinions on Do a Google search with the race name, and you are bound to find some reviews from bloggers. If it is a new race, take a look at the organizers and see if they’ve been successful in organizing races in the past. Sometimes, you have to take a leap of faith… but just be aware that not everyone says who they are.

{apparently I stole that last sentence right out of my dad’s mouth}


5. How will you dress?

OK, now that you’ve picked out your race (WAHOO!) and started training (WOO WOO!) it is time to think about race day and how you will dress. Costumes? Maybe. This can be a fun way to celebrate your first race and get to know people at the start (trust me, people can’t resist talking to a person wearing a cute tutu!).

{all this pink was even a great conversation starter at Ragnar Adirondacks!}


If anything, make sure you try out your race gear before running in it. You don’t have to be decked out in the latest and greatest; all you need are a good pair of running shoes and a comfortable top and bottom. And you’re ready to go!



Any tips for someone signing up for their first race?

If you remember… what was your first race and how did you do? This is funny.. I signed up for a winter race when I was in high school. My dad actually convinced me not to run it and go shopping with him! Instead, we went to packet pick up and I got my shirt (which was an awesome long-sleeve thermal). Such a good influence! 🙂 

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